It’s always difficult to see a loved one in pain, and it’s no different when the loved one is your dog. Aspirin is a common pain reliever for humans, but did you know it can be used for dogs, too? There are aspirins on the market made especially for dogs. Some of these are over-the-counter, but you’ll need a prescription for others. It’s important never to give your dog aspirin made for people, even if you have it handy, as the dosage for dogs is much lower.
If you’re interested in using aspirin for dogs, talk to your vet first. Dosage will vary for every pet, and your vet will be able to tell you if the drug is unsafe for your pet to use.
When is aspirin for dogs useful?
Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). As such, it can be used to treat the following issues:
- mild to moderate, short-term pain
When should you NOT give a dog aspirin?
Pregnancy: If your dog is pregnant, aspirin should never be used. Taken late in the pregnancy, it can make the birth difficult, or even lead to the death of the mother or her pups. Aspirin may also cause birth defects at any time during your dog’s pregnancy.
- Older Dogs: As dogs become older, aspirin should be replaced with other pain relievers. Older dogs are more susceptible to aspirin’s side effects (see below).
- Bleeding Disorders: Aspirin can make bleeding disorders—including ulcers—worse.
- Other Medications: If your dog is on other medications, it may be best not to use aspirin. Talk to your veterinarian first about possible interactions between aspirin and what your dog is already taking.
- Long-term Treatment: Long-term aspirin treatment, such as for osteoarthritis, should be avoided.
- Before Surgery: Stop aspirin use at least one week before your dog has surgery. Aspirin reduces blood clotting, and this can make surgery riskier and the healing process longer.
Side effects of aspirin for dogs
When giving your dog aspirin, keep an eye out for any of these side effects:
- GI tract: Gastrointestinal damage is aspirin’s most common side effect. Some dogs are more susceptible to it than others. This partially depends on age, but not entirely.
- Liver: Liver problems occasionally develop over time. It’s a good idea to switch to another pain reliever if your dog develops liver or kidney problems, whether aspirin caused them or not.
- Joint health: Long-term use can damage the cartilage in your dog’s joints.
- Injury: If your dog takes aspirin after a severe injury or sprain, limit their activity as much as possible. When your dog doesn’t feel all the pain of an injury, they risk making the injury worse.
- Allergy: Some dogs are allergic to aspirin. If you notice an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Keep in mind…
Every dog reacts to aspirin somewhat differently. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on your dog when you give them any new medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much aspirin can I give a dog?
It is not recommended to give aspirin to dogs without consulting with a veterinarian first. While aspirin can be used as a pain reliever for dogs, it can also be harmful if given in the wrong dosage or to dogs with certain health conditions. The recommended dosage ranges between 10-40mg/kg, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual. However, the appropriate dosage of aspirin for a dog depends on the dog's weight, age, and overall health. Giving too much aspirin to a dog can cause side effects such as gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney damage, and even death.
Can I give my dog human aspirin?
It is not recommended to give human aspirin to dogs without consulting with a veterinarian first. While the active ingredient in aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, is the same in both human and veterinary formulations, human aspirin can contain additional ingredients that are harmful or toxic to dogs, such as caffeine or acetaminophen. Additionally, the dosages of human aspirin and veterinary aspirin may differ, and giving the wrong dosage of human aspirin to a dog can lead to serious side effects, including gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney damage, and even death.
What kind of aspirin can I give my dog?
There are veterinary formulations of aspirin that are specifically designed for dogs, and these are generally recommended over human aspirin. Veterinary aspirin is typically available in low-dose formulations and in palatable forms, such as chewable tablets or flavored liquids. If your veterinarian has recommended aspirin for your dog, they will be able to provide you with a prescription for a veterinary formulation or recommend a specific over-the-counter brand. It is important to follow your veterinarian's instructions for administering aspirin to your dog, including the correct dosage and frequency.
What over-the-counter pain reliever can I give my dog?
It is not recommended to give over-the-counter pain relievers to dogs without consulting with a veterinarian first. While there are some pain relievers that are safe for dogs, such as certain formulations of aspirin, many human pain relievers are toxic to dogs and can cause serious harm. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are two examples of human pain relievers that are toxic to dogs and can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, some over-the-counter pain relievers contain ingredients that are harmful or toxic to dogs, such as caffeine. If your dog is experiencing pain, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of the pain and the appropriate treatment. Your veterinarian can prescribe a safe and effective pain reliever for your dog or recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever that is safe for dogs and provide you with specific instructions on how to administer it.
What can I give my dog for pain at home?
There are some home remedies that may help alleviate your dog's pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are often used to help improve joint health and reduce inflammation in dogs with arthritis or other joint conditions. These supplements are typically given orally and may take several weeks or months to show their full effects. Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric supplements may help reduce inflammation in dogs with joint pain or other inflammatory conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that may help reduce inflammation and improve joint health in dogs with arthritis or other joint conditions. These supplements are typically given orally and may take several weeks to show their full effects. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that may help reduce pain and inflammation in dogs with arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. Ginger supplements are typically given orally and may take several weeks to show their full effects. CBD oil is a natural extract from the cannabis plant that has been shown to have potential benefits for dogs with certain types of pain or anxiety. However, it is important to note that the legal status of CBD oil can vary by state and country, and not all products are created equal. It is important to consult with a veterinarian before administering any CBD products to your dog. Applying a warm compress or a cold pack to the affected area may help relieve pain and inflammation. Be sure to protect your dog's skin from direct contact with heat or cold. Encourage your dog to rest and limit their physical activity, especially if they are experiencing joint or muscle pain.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.